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Executive Summary

Educational Goals

  • Business Plan Objectives
    • Increase effectiveness of existing technology training programs.
    • Increase the knowledge and skills of host sites about intergenerational technology program implementation and maintenance.
  • TeachSD Toolkit Objectives
    • Increase confidence among older people to use technology.
    • Increase gerontological literacy among younger people.
    • To enhance the teaching skills of younger people.

Program Justification
Technology is a valuable tool to enhance quality of life by increasing access to social connections, services, and information. While older people use technology at lower rates than the general population, their skills are diverse. Older users and non-users have distinct characteristics. Beyond individual characteristics, rate of innovation, usability, subjective aging, and gerontological literacy were identified as factors contributing to technology adoption among older people. Ecological Systems Theory suggested these factors do not develop in a vacuum. They are the product of proximal processes. Of particular relevance to efforts to promote technology use through intergenerational programming is subjective aging. Subjective aging refers to how aging in interpreted and constructed by society and individuals. The impact of negative conceptualizations of aging are well documented. As a result, subjective aging interventions are needed to improve individual views on aging are needed at every stage of life. Subjective aging interventions are defined as efforts that seek to improve individual views on aging. Younger people were identified as the appropriate target for the subjective aging intervention for intergenerational technology training programming. First, how younger people interact with older people may influence the older person’s perception of their ability to learn and use technology. For example, if an older person struggles to master a technology skills, the younger person may attribute it to the person’s age. In contrast, a younger person who participated in a subjective aging intervention may be better equipped to identify the source of the challenge and provide a solution. For example, a younger person might recommend a stylus pen to assist with the operation of a touch screen. Second, the evidence about the impact negative conceptualizations of aging suggested the need to identify strategies to reduce the risk of internalizing these views at every stage of life. While there is limited evidence about the impact of subjective aging interventions, research indicated that interventions that target younger people should include facts on aging, experiential learning, and positive exposure

Target Audience
The target audience of the business plan are community leaders who will be recruited to utilize the TeachSD Toolkit to launch an intergenerational technology program in their community. The TeachSD Toolkit Pilot will consist of two communities in South Dakota and two communities in North Dakota. The size of the program’s audience will depend on the capacity of the host sites.

Target audience of the intergenerational technology program:

  • Volunteer Technology Trainers: The target audience for volunteers is younger people between the ages of 14 to 24, but volunteers of other ages are welcome.
  • Adult Learners: The target audience is adults over the age of 50, who have questions about technology. However, all adults can benefit from technology lessons.

Public and Private Values
How we interact today is drastically different than it was one hundred years ago. For much of human history, multi-generation homes were the norm, but now we often have little interaction with others outside our generation. The prevalence of technology is also changing how we interact, banking, shopping, and playing games can all be done with the touch of the button and require no face to face interactions. TeachSD will benefit the public in two critical ways. First, evidence suggests intergenerational contact combined with efforts to increase gerontological literacy may reduce the risk of developing negative aging stereotypes later in life. This is critical because aging attitudes have been shown to predict health outcomes, with more negative attitudes related to poorer health outcomes.  Secondly, TeachSD will increase technical knowledge among older adults. Social isolation and loneliness have serious health consequences. Technology is one way to reduce social isolation. For example, during the pilot an adult learner reported using text messaging to communicate with her grandchildren after receiving technology lessons. 

Program Development
Four organizations (e.g., public library) will be recruited to implement the TeachSD toolkit. SDSU Extension staff will provide technical support as needed to pilot communities. Potentially, SDSU Extension staff will participate in recruitment through conferences, however the day to day implementation of the TeachSD toolkit will be the responsibility of the host site. Online videos are available for training volunteers. User feedback will be used to amend the TeachSD toolkit. A manuscript about the program will also be written and published.

Key Contact
Leacey E. Brown, SDSU Extension Gerontology Field Specialist

Resources Needed

  • Evaluation plan.
  • Marketing materials.
  • TeachSD Toolkit.
  • TeachSD Orientation equipment.
  • Pilot communities in North and South Dakota.
  • Funds for shipping the Toolkit.
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